There is a common misconception that Court is a strict, no-nonsense process that is etched in stone. It might shock you to find out that Court is really an unpredictable environment that requires quick-on-your-feet thinking and flexibility.
Let me set the scene for you. When you attend Court, you are generally walking into a courtroom full of fidgety attorneys and anxious clients. Everyone is waiting for the Judge to take the bench and begin the day. Upon taking the bench, the Judge calls the calendar. Each attorney (if the party has representation) or party stands up when their case is called and announces how long they believe their case will take that day.
This is where a flexible mind set already begins to come into play. Depending on the number of cases and time announcements, you could go straight into trying your case or you wind up waiting for several hours before your matter is heard by the Court. Flexibility is key. Instead of just waiting, this is where discussion between parties and opposing counsels can begin. Often-times, this extra time allows for possible settlement and resolution of your case. Again, it is important to be flexible and open to discussion. Better that you decide your fate than a Judge. Even if you do not resolve your case, you will often learn valuable information from the opposing counsel or opposing party during the course of negotiations. That is why flexibility is key. Keep an open mind when going into Court. Do not be set in stone or rigid in your approach. Also, trust your attorney as you approach each stepping stone.
Should your case not resolve prior to being called, you now find yourself in front of the Judge with your attorney, ready for your case to go forward. Even here, you must be flexible. Not all judges are the same and not all cases call for the same procedural approach. Sometimes attorneys give opening statements followed by the presentation of evidence. Sometimes judges do not want to hear openings. Sometimes you may not want to give an opening. Each case is its own animal that calls for a different game plan.
Moreover, if you have an opportunity to observe the presentation of cases prior to yours being called, you could gain invaluable insight into the judge’s mood, demeanor and perspective. This insight can also influence how your attorney decides to present your case. Remember, flexibility is key. And the Judge is the one making the final decision, so you want to ensure you are making the Judge happy.
Finally, it is your turn for your case to be called. You are now sitting at counsel’s table and your attorney is presenting your case. Remember, no matter how much time you have spent preparing, no matter how many possible outcomes, arguments, or counter-arguments you have anticipated, there will inevitably be something that comes up that is unexpected, or does not fall within the game plan you and your counsel had in mind. It is especially key to be flexible in these moments. Do not fall apart. Do not think that this is the end. View it as an opportunity to introduce your own evidence that counters these new arguments, facts, or documents. And trust that your attorney is prepared, flexible, and quick on their feet to handle any curve ball.
And always remember, this too shall pass. Litigation is an emotional ride that can raise tempers and cause one to lose control. This is why it is important to remain flexible. Make sure you are the one in control. In that sense too, flexibility is key. When you are flexible you will remain in control.